Thursday, 31 October 2013

Eerie Salad : Halloween Special !!!

Halloween is a very popular festival in west. It was not-so-popular in India until a couple of years back. Infact, just last year and this present year, i am seeing a lot of buzz in India about Halloween. Halloween theme parties, Halloween special costumes, Halloween celebrations with decorating home with fake cob webs and jack-o-lanterns, accessories... we have it all here in India now!!! In simple terms, Halloween is an occasion to remember the spirits.... Sounds eerie, sounds scary, doesn't it? Still people prefer watching horror movies, dressing in all sorts of "Scare-to-Death" costumes and wearing masks to get the thrill of it all ! For me, all i have seen about Halloween is in Hollywood movies and read about it in newspaper. 

This year Halloween and Diwali ( the biggest festival celebrated in India) fall together. So a long weekend and people have all the more reasons to party ! Halloween party calls for all sorts of dishes decorated or garnished, going by the theme. So i made this "Eerie" salad specially for this day! The main ingredient behind making it look "eerie" is "Beet-root"; yes, the red colour signifying "Blood".

This can be served as a starter-salad or along with main course or even serves as one complete meal, as it contains all the nutrients to give you a balanced meal. And it can even be eaten chilled. So, make it, refrigerate it, and serve when its needed !!And did i forgot to mention? Its very easy to make. You can add different types of dressings according to your likes. I made this from what i had in the kitchen and kept it simple.

Salads are a very healthy diet. I was not much of a fan of Salads, until now when i have started experimenting with food and making salads according to my taste and choice. The basic ingredients are always fresh fruits and vegetables but you can always make additions of corn, sprouts, mushrooms, mashed potatoes or whatever you can think of ! Salads really give an exercise to your brain of how innovative you can make it look and taste ! And every time the result is always something new :) Salads give us fiber, helps lower cholesterol level and also prevents constipation. The foremost - Salads help us lose weight !!! Yes, a healthy way to lose weight is by eating salads or adding salads to your meal everyday. Just a plain Green Salad also serves the purpose. So all-in-one advise " EAT SALADS !!!!"

Ingredients :

Apple - 1/2 chopped 
Orange - 1/2 ( chop the slices... each slice into 2 or 3 parts depending on the size of orange)
Green capsicum - 1/2 chopped ( i purposely didn't add red or yellow capsicum as i wanted the beetroot colour to come out prominently... Remember our theme is "Halloween" )
Beetroot - 1/2 (wash, peel the skin and grate )
Cucumber - 1/2 chopped
Oregano - to sprinkle
Pepper and Salt - to sprinkle according to taste ( preferably use black salt )
Red chilli flakes - sprinkle according to taste
Lemon zest and Orange zest - a few strands for tangy flavour ( optional)

Recipe  :

Mix everything together ( all the fruits and vegetables ) in a bowl. Sprinkle oregano, salt, pepper and chilli flakes. If you like tangy flavours, then only add the zest or else the salad tastes juicy and yummy otherwise too.
Zest is the outer hard cover of citrus fruits like lemon, lime, orange, sweet lime etc. Make sure when you grate it, don't use the white part ( the inside skin of the zest)... Grate it carefully, so that only the upper portion is grated. The white portion is normally bitter.

Happy Halloween and Happy Cooking :)

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Gajar ka Halwa : Bollywood special

I'm sure every Bollywood movie fan would know this dish!!!! For those, not aware, "Gajar ka Halwa" was a popular dish made by all Bollywood mothers for their sons and apparently, all the Heroes' favourite dish was the same :)))) "Maa ke haath ka Gajar halwa" ( the carrot pudding made by mother ) or "Beta, maine gajar ka halwa banaya hai.. tujhe pasand hai na?" ( Son, i have made your favourite dish of carrot pudding ) were some of the very common dialogues in Bollywood Films in 70's or 80's. 
Gradually , with time, "Maa" became "Mom" and there is no more "Gajar ka halwa" that i remember seeing in any film recently. Nevertheless, Gajar ka halwa is a dessert relished by us all at any given point of time !

Gajar Halwa basically got introduced during the Mughal period and is associated with state of Punjab in India and Pakistan and is also known as "Punjabi Gajrela" or "Gajar ka Gajrela" in the northern parts of India. In earlier days, it was made by using carrots, pumpkins, potatoes, zucchini and snake squash. This halwa is especially cooked and served hot in winter days, as carrots are cheaper during that time and of good quality too. Cooked on festivals like Diwali, Holi or any special occassion, this dish tastes good even when served chilled. It usually lasts for a long period when kept in refrigerator or at room temperature in winters.

Recently a friend asked me to post recipe of homemade Gajar Halwa with some twist. Normally, this halwa is made with milk, sugar, carrots, nuts and dry fruits. I really scratched my brains, to make this recipe into something exciting and new. Did some R n D, cooked with a few changes here and there and here is the result :

I love replacing sugar with jaggery. Not many would like the taste and would prefer the traditional taste of adding sugar to the halwa but trying this in small quantity is no harm. Also, i used rich whole milk instead of skimmed milk. I used the traditional khoya, but you can also use condensed milk. The twist was : a few saffron strands dipped in rose water!!!! Not only does it add taste to the recipe, but also the aroma is breathtaking :)) And yes, don't think of calories while making or eating this recipe. Use Ghee as much is needed. There is no "short-cut" or " fat-cutting" there ! The halwa tastes yummy only when the carrots are saute'd well in ghee. 
Another twist was to add " Rabdi ice cream" on top!!! It just couldn't get better. We get ready  made Rabdi ice cream here. You can make Rabdi at home or buy ready made and top it on halwa. Or you can even freeze the Rabdi in kulfi or ice cream moulds and use it for topping.

Ingredients :

Carrots : 2 cups (Wash, peel and grate them )
Jaggery - 3/4 cup ( if using powdered sugar, use the same amount or according to taste)
Desi ghee - 4-5 tsp
Full cream milk - 3 cups
Khoya - 3/4 cup ( Use 1/2 cup or even less if using condensed milk or 3 tbsp of powdered milk. Some even add paneer instead of khoya for a different taste)
Saffron strands - a few
Rose water - just to dip the saffron strands in
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
Raisins - a few ( You can even add cashews or any other mixed nuts of your choice. You can even add dates)

Recipe :

Always use a wide flat pan or kadhai to make carrot halwa as it promises even cooking. 
You can also make this in a pressure cooker vessel. 
Dip the saffron strands in rose water and keep aside.
Heat ghee in a pan and add grated carrots and saute for 8-10 mins. Keep stirring it in between. This prevents burning of the carrots.
Add the milk, raisins and cardamom powder and cook till all the milk is absorbed by the carrots and the mixture turns into thick consistency. This is when the carrots are cooked. It will take about 20-25 minutes. Cook on low flame and let it take its own time.
Add the jaggery or powdered sugar and cook for another 5 mins.
Remove from heat.
Lastly, add the khoya and saffron with rose water and mix well.
If the mixture is watery, cook for another 5-10 minutes till it becomes dry.
Serve with a scoop of Rabdi ice cream or Rabdi.

Happy Cooking :)

Peanut Ladoo : From Guddu :)

The word "Ladoo" reminds me of one of my Rakhi brothers who calls me "Guddu". I think he named me that from the word "Gudiya". So here's a sweet recipe for my sweet brother Prashant Batar :)

Ladoos or Laddus are all-time sweet that you can make and store in your kitchen. You dont need a special reason ( a festival or an occassion )to make one. Normally, all ladoos have ghee as an ingredient, so storing them for a minimum of 1 week is not an issue too. We have already made Coconut ladoos... Today we will make these melt-in-the-mouth Peanut ladoos. We maharashtrians call it "Shengdanyache ladoo" ( Sheng-dana is peanut in marathi language). They are also called "Shing na ladoo" in gujrathi. I normally make them and store them in an air tight container ( need not refrigerate) and is a part of my husband's snack-box every alternate day !! An easy-healthy recipe for his sweet tooth!!! 

Peanuts offer a variety of health benefits. They are a very good source of monosaturated fats, which is good for a healthy heart. They also contain Vitamin E, proteins and recently i read, that Peanuts not only contain oleic acid, a healthy fat found in Olive oil, but they are also rich in antioxidants. 
I love making recipes with Peanuts and they are an essential bit in my monthly grocery list. They can be eaten as whole, crushed, powdered, boiled, roasted...In any form they taste great!!

Peanuts can be made into chutneys, a sandwich filling in the form of Peanut Butter, or even into daal. Yes, my mother makes this yummyliscious Peanut daal that one has during Fasting. Peanut is one of the ingredients that is allowed to eat when one fasts, along with fruits, milk, sweet potatoes etc etc. We kids never fasted but used to love eating all the "fast-food " ( food allowed during fasting ) that was cooked at home. I am surely going to take the recipe of Peanut Daal from my mother and post it soon. Crushed peanuts are also made into chikkis and cookies. Ground peanut powder is used in various dishes like sabudana khichdi, some vadas or even curries or sabzis to get thicker consistency and a different taste. I even like to add roasted peanuts to breakfast recipes like upma and poha ! And how can we forget the peanut chaat with lemon juice and our favourite "Pepper"!!!! Yummm...

Peanut Ladoos can be made in different ways. You can add jaggery or powdered sugar. I always add and prefer jaggery over sugar, for the health benefits and also for the taste. You can add nuts or dry fruits according to your choice, either sliced or even powdered. You can even add cardamom powder or dry ginger powder or keep them plain and simple without much additions. They taste delicious either ways.

Ingredients :

Peanut powder - 1 cup. (Dry roast peanuts till light brown, remove their skin and then grind it to a powder in mixer. Make sure you grind it slowly and check in between, otherwise it starts oozing oil and powder turns sticky. You can make ladoos even with the sticky mixture, but a coarse powder tastes better than the sticky one )
Jaggery - 3/4 cup. (If you are adding powdered sugar, add 1/2 cup or according to taste. The powdered sugar has to be little coarse and not too smooth.)
Ghee - 2 tbsp
Almonds - 4-5 sliced into thin strips ( you can even add cashews or nuts of your choice)
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp ( optional)

Recipe :

Mix Peanut powder with jaggery or powdered sugar well.
Add sliced almonds. Keep some aside for garnishing ladoos on top.
Add the cardamom powder and 1 tbsp ghee.
Mix the mixture well and then add the other 1 tbsp ghee. The mixture is ready.
Roll into small round balls ( apply little ghee on hand or palm if needed ) and garnish with almond on top.

Happy Cooking :)

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Moong daal vada

Moong daal vada or pakoras are very common in Northern part of India, especially during winters but they have become quite popular in other parts as well. Having these vadas in monsoons or winters with a piping hot cup of chai or coffee is unbeatable. And what more? These vadas are not at all time consuming. They are best for party-time snacks, as they taste good even after they become cold. So no need to reheat them again and again and guests would really enjoy these "crispy from outside - soft from inside" vadas. I made them for one such party hosted at our home. It was the first time my husband's friends ( around 15-20 of them!!!) were coming home and i was nervous what to make for snacks ! So a phone call to "the all-time problem solver" ( MOM), and i was ready to rock the get-together ! Just to save me from the last minute embarassment ( if they dont turn out well!!! as i had never made these before), i tried it in a small quantity beforehand. It also helped me calculate the quantity and time i would need to make snacks for so many people at once.

Usually vadas are made from urad daal ( split or skinned ). These moong daal vadas can also be made from split or skinned moong daal or a mix of urad and moong daal. I made it with only skinned moong daal. You can even save the batter in air tight box in fridge and fry vadas as and when required. It usually lasts upto 5-6 days. You can be as innovative and do additions to the batter according to your choice. Add onions, green chillies, red chilli powder, corriander powder, corriander leaves, cumin seeds or powder, sesame seeds, aniseeds...It tastes great with anything ! And yes, dont forget to add "pepper" powder..:) 

So lets make some delicious spicy crunchy vadas ( they are also called "badas" in some parts)

Ingredients :

Moong daal - 1 cup ( soaked in water for minimum 4-5 hours. You can even soak it overnight). If you are using split moong daal ( chilke wali ), then wash the daal in water well, and remove the skins floating on top.
Green chillies - 5 chopped finely or according to taste
Corriander leaves - a handful chopped finely
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp ( you can even cut fresh ginger - around 1/2 inch piece and garlic - 4-5 and add them to moon daal while grinding in mixer)
Salt - to taste ( i added rock salt, tastes better :)
Oil - to fry

Recipe :

Grind the daal in mixer, after removing all the water that the daal is soaked in. Don't grind it too smooth. A little coarse is better.
Add all the other ingredients to the batter and mix well. Batter is ready !
Heat oil in a kadhai and put small teaspoonfull of batter in oil. Alternatively, you can even make small round balls with hand and put in oil. Fry till brown and remove it on a kitchen tissue, so it soaks all the extra oil.
Garnish with chaat masala or pepper sprinkled on top.

Happy cooking :)

Friday, 25 October 2013

Tradition meets Modern : A visit to Dastkar

I have enjoyed going to exhibitions always, for the mere joy of seeing something different there from the regular popular hangouts we normally go to, at restaurants, cafes and malls. There is so much of art, culture and moreover, you get to meet the "Creators". Yes, a lot of people host their own stall so they are able to explain the products to their customers better. Its fun talking to them and knowing their backgrounds and how they developed this hobby/ passion or craft. Festival times always invites exhibitions at various places with people willing to splurge on clothes, gift items, jewelry, decoratives and everything you can think of. Not to forget Food!!!! Yes, the food stalls at exhibitions are worth a mention. People normally get tired shopping and stop by to have a snack or drink at the food stall. I was amongst such people until i started this blog. Yes, a visit to Dastkar recently confirmed my love for food and the dedication i have towards writing this blog when i headed straight to the food stall first than seeing the shopping stalls :)))) And i wondered, "Have i started enjoying food more than shopping?", as i literally spent an hour of my time at the food stall seeing all the things around, talking to stall owners and enjoying the delicacies and got very little time to see all the shopping stalls around...( Apart from the fact, that we reached late - just 2 hours before closing time !!! )

Dastkar ( ) is a Delhi based NGO. It organises bazaars and exhibitions to help promote craftsmen from all over India. This year's Dastkar had around 22 states participating and craftsmen were happy to get a platform to showcase their products to the urban crowd. Each year, bazaars are held in Delhi and also in Bangalore and they have been getting tremendous response from the people. I didnt know about this until a friend Sonia Vasudeo mentioned it to me and tagged me in photos of Dastkar exhibitions. I found it really interesting ( especially the hummus with Pita bread photo caught my eye :)) and went to see it with my husband on weekend.

As mentioned, we headed straight to the Food stall and what caught our eye at first was this super colourful "Thela-gaadi" ( Cart ) selling all the sherbets and juices. We wanted to eat something first, so we didnt stop over this stall at first. Though there was a huge crowd of kids surrounding this thela when we went, it is popular with the elders too who want to sip in some fruity flavours ! A quick round through the food stall and we came across " The Kathi's" where they were serving delicious Kathi kebabs, A rajasthani stall serving samosa, kachori, pani pudi ( as they call it ! ), aloo chaat etc.... There was even "Bombay ki bhelpuri" ( still calling it Bombay and not Mumbai :)), and the famous chuski !!! Its called "Gola" in common language...This sweet icy drink is famous from "Bombay" ( !!!! :))),normally on choupatty and beaches ). And yes, This stall did mention " The famous Kala khatta chuski". I wonder why there was so much promotion of mumbai food here in Delhi... But nevertheless, it all was tasty ( No, we didnt try it all... we could make out from the crowd savouring all the delicious dishes from every stall around)

Must - mention is the "Kiki's Kitchen" here...Its an open stall and a sweet smiling lady greeting us always. Specialising in omlettes and sandwiches and burgers, Kiki had it all in a small corner under a tree with just 3-4 work-tables. She had a gas stove and 2 pans to make things warm, a toaster and all the ingredients and herbs you can think of!!! We opted for the "Open sandwich" and were asked for the option of being served with fresh fruits or boiled eggs. Hmmm... Boiled eggs it was !!! And we stood there and watched her make it. It was a delight to watch. There were cherry tomatoes, salad leaves, sun dried tomatoes, pomegranate, bell pepper, cucumber, oregano, salt, and freshly crushed pepper( my favourite )- i dont know if i am forgetting anything... But it was super yummy...Yes, as it looks :))

Being from mumbai, i always crave for the famous vada paav here in Delhi. In fact, the last time i went mumbai was after 6 months of being in Delhi and the first thing i did when i landed was have vada paav :))) I especially dont like the paav that we get here in Delhi. The paav in Mumbai are soft and thin... Here we get packet ones which are not as soft, and they are big...huge (as you can see ). But minus the paav, the vadas were worth it at "The Maharashtra food stall". It had the real taste of Maharashtrian food. Owned and run by Shubhangi Chiplunkar, they also have a permanent stall at Dilli Haat. She was happy to tell me about her 95 % punjabi customers who are regulars and also about the huge orders they get for the Diwali "Faraal" of chaklis, sev, chiwda, ladoos etc. A sweet female, she instructed her cook to make special sev puri for us as we were from mumbai!! Yes, the food was yummy and very authentic. As much as we wanted to try the Shrikhand and Gaakar and pithla, we were full !!! So maybe next time at the stall at Dilli Haat :))

And the last mention is the "JugMug Thela".( loved the name, loved the decor and loved the wooden benches kept in front of the stall to sit ! Why JugMug? When i asked him, the owner Jatin said, "Its because of all the jugmug of lights around the stall and also signifies a jug of coffee and a mug of tea!!!" Started in Feb 2013, JugMug thela is a mobile kiosk that serves Artisan chai and coffee from India and around the world. The menu was interesting ! But i prefered being asked  personalised questions of " whether you like your coffee sweet or bitter, whether milky or strong etc..." The coffee was rich, creamy, hot and aromatic, just the way i liked it! They even have coffees and homemade tea masalas for sale. Also some fresh baked cookies and cakes along with your coffee/chai. And yes, not to forget the popular-with-kids Ice pops with flavours of Ginger, Aloe vera, Grapes, Fresh fruits in honey and green Tea.

As much as we are paan and mouth freshner lovers, we headed to the stall of "Mahesh Supari" selling churans and suparis. Some of them were really yummy, especially the "Khatta Meetha", "The gulkand paan" , and our all time favourite "Anaardana". There are pickles and readymade gol gappe puris (fry and serve) and also papads in different flavours. The next stall had very interesting packets of Gajak's (Peanuts in peanut butter, sesame seeds in sugar syrup... its like chikki), Gatte ( Of Rajasthan fame, which i bought a packet of and am going to make the yummy Gatte-ki-sabzi soon. Gatte are basically chicpea flour dumplings dried and then cooked into a gravy) and some Namkeens too.

Finally, we headed to the shopping section and were amazed to see all the different crafted antiques from various parts of India, some from remote villages. Salute to all the artists and craftsmen and i wish more exhibitions like these keep happening all over.

And we love this " Man amongst God "
A fun filled Saturday it was - All Thanks to Dastkar ! :)

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Dudhaatla Dudhi : Bottle Gourd cooked in milk !!!

Yes, my reaction was the same when i heard about Bottle Gourd cooked in milk !!! My father had talked very highly of this recipe made by my mom. But i didn't pay much attention to it, niether bothered to take the recipe from my mother...until a day, when i had bottle gourd in my fridge and didn't know what to cook !!! I decided to try this recipe with half of the bottle gourd, just in case me or my hubby don't like it. But Voila !!! It turned out super yummy and its so easy to cook too!

I just found out that Dudhi or Bottle gourd or Ghiya as it is commonly known as, is also called Calabash. The rounder varieties are called Calabash Gourds. This was grown not primarily for food, but was used as a water container. Interesting, isn't it??

Ingredients :

Milk - 1/2 cup ( you can even add cream and little milk if u like a creamy texture )
Bottle Gourd/ Dudhi - 1/2 of medium size ( comes around 1 cup when chopped )
Cloves - 2 to 3
Pepper corns ( Kaali miri ) - 5 to 6
Daalchini - 1 small piece
Bay leaf - 1
Dry red chillies - 3 to 4 ( Adjust according to taste )
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Corriander leaves - to garnish

Recipe :

Wash and peel the Dudhi. Chop them into small or medium cubes. ( smaller ones are easier to eat )
Heat ghee in a pan. Add the pepper, cloves, daalchini and bay leaf and fry for a minute on low flame.
Then add the Dudhi, red chillies and saltand fry for another minute.
Cover it with a lid.
When the Dudhi is half cooked, add the milk or cream. 
Keep the low flame and let it take its own time to cook. This way it takes all the flavours of the raw spices added. Keep stirring in between when the milk starts boiling. Add more milk if u want thinner consistency.
Remove from the flame after Dudhi is cooked and let is cool. To garnish, add chopped corriander leaves before serving.

Happy cooking :))

Coconut ladoos

"The best thing about having a sister is having a best friend forever". I love this quote and by God's grace, i have been blessed by some of the very sweet sisters as cousins. They have been there with me through thick and thin and they always lend a silent support in everything i do. Just when i started this food blog, i really got some encouraging statements by one of my little sister and another sent me a list of recipes to try out ! One such sister is Mrinalini Kulkarni ( we call her Mona tai - Tai in Marathi language means elder sister).

Monatai and me have grown up together. We used to eat in one plate, wore each other's clothes, shared all the deepest secrets and yet, given each other the space we needed individually. She is married to a loving husband and has 2 beautiful children now. Just a few days back, i had mentioned her about me having 1/2 a tin of condensed milk ( the other 1/2 i had used in making kheer) and what do i do with it, when she gave me this easy quick recipe of coconut ladoos. So this one's dedicated to Monatai.

Coconut ladoos is a melt in your mouth recipe that you can make for special occassions like Ganesh Chaturthi, Navratri or any festival. Now that Diwali is coming, i thought to post this recipe. Its a good substitute to the besan and rava ladoos that are normally made in every home ( though they taste yummy too!!! ). Try this 4-ingredient recipe and your ladoos are ready in no time !!! :)

Ingredients :

Condensed milk ( Milkmaid ) - 1/2 tin
Dessicated coconut - 2 cups ( you get readymade packets in market)
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp ( optional )
Pistachios - Chopped lengthwise ( to garnish )

Recipe :

Heat a pan and mix condensed milk with 1 n 1/2 cup of dessicated coconut ( keep the half cup aside ) and keep stirring it on low flame. The mixture will start leaving the sides of pan.
Add cardamom powder. 
Remove from heat and let it cool.
Take the remaining dessicated coconut in a plate. Roll small ladoos of the mixture into this coconut. If the mixture is sticking to your hand, apply little oil on palm.
Garnish with pistachios.

Happy cooking :)

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Palak Chicken : Coming from a true vegetarian

One of the very few things where me and my husband have different interests is he loves non vegetarian food and i am a vegetarian ( rather egg-etarian). Having grown up in a Brahmin family, we never cooked non-veg at our home. Eggs were allowed because we all ( including my Dad) loved to exercise and gym and we used to have our share of natural proteins through eggs. I also remember those special Sunday breakfasts of omlette and toast made by mom :) But having a whole bunch of friends from different cultures and communities and countries, i have never really been a " Non veg? Don't even eat on the same table!!! Or Don't even come near my plate" sort of girl. I was also okay touching it as i used to cook rice and boiled chicken for the dogs i used to pet sit.

The only issue was i had never cooked it in my life!!! As much as hubby dearest loved eating it, he never forced me to make some. But one day, i decided to make it !!! And its not that difficult !!! I had seen a few recipes online, also some on the food channels but i decided to play safe and try to make the chicken in Spinach ( coz i knew how to make the palak gravy when i make palak paneer, though i dont add yogurt to palak paneer ). Just a few additions here and there, it turned out great or as hubby says so !!! Now i regularly cook non veg for him.... ( Must Mention : Without tasting or without eating )

Ingredients :

Chicken - 5 pieces
Lemon juice - 1 tsp ( to marinate )
Ginger garlic paste ( 1 tsp to marinate)
Pepper powder - sprinkle according to taste
Corriander leaves - 1/2 a handful to marinate.

Spinach - a medium bunch
Green chillies - 3 or (according to taste or spiciness of chillies, plus i dont add red chilli powder to this recipe. so u can adjust spice accordingly )
Corriander leaves - 1/2 a handful
Oil - 1 tbsp
Garlic - 3-4 chopped finely
Corriander powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Amchur powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Curd/ yogurt - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

Recipe :

Marinate the chicken pieces with lemon juice, ginger garlic paste, pepper powder and corriander leaves. Generally 1-2 hours of marination is good. But what i do is if i have to make the recipe in evening for dinner, i marinate and keep the chicken covered in fridge for 5-6 hours. Ad i remove it from the fridge an hour before i start making it. This way the spices really get mixed well with the chicken.

Cut the stems of the Palak and wash it well. Boil water with little salt and add the palak leaves to it. Boil for 3-4 minutes. Drain and immerse the leaves in cold water or keep under running cold water for a while. This is known as Blanching of Palak.
Once cool, make a paste of these leaves ( remove water from the leaves completely ) with green chillies and remaining corriander in mixer.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan, add garlic and fry for a minute. Then add the palak paste to it and fry for couple of minutes. Add all the dry spice powders and mix well with the paste. Add about 1/2 cup water. Keep stirring in between. Add 1 tbsp curd. After about 3-4 mins, add the chicken and salt. Cover and let it cook for 8-10 mins. Add more water if required and adjust the gravy consistency according to personal choice.

Happy Cooking :)

Peanut Chutney : Rekha's special

As is the saying in the film Ratatouille, "Anybody can cook"... I have come up with a new saying, "Recipes come from anywhere". This is really true! Women who work as domestic help ( commonly known as Maids in India) have a special place in our lives...I think all Indian married women can relate to this statement. We feel the world has gone upside down when she doesn't come for a day or if she doesn't finish the work on time ! Thankfully, i share a very good rapport with my domestic help and vice versa. Rekha - She is this ever smiling female, keeps cracking jokes and yes, does all the work to perfection ! 

Just one day when she saw i had kept Peanuts on my kitchen platform, she mentioned , "Didi ( Elder sister - that's what they call here to young women and "Aunties" to elder women...Yes, that does state that i am still young :) Anyways, jokes apart...) even i made peanut chutney yesterday". Curious to know, how her version of chutney was, i asked her the recipe and she did mention it to me in detail. And as excited i am to try new recipes always, i made it the same day and had them with plain Parathas ! It was super yummy....

So here comes an easy recipe from a remote village in Rajasthan near Jaipur ( she mentioned that they make different kinds of chutneys in her village and have it with bajra rotis. So i am going to make some more chutney recipes soon :)

Ingredients :

Peanut powder - 1 cup ( Dry roast the peanuts, remove its skin and grind it to a powder in mixer )
Garlic - 8 pieces
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Green chillies - 3 ( or according to taste)
Onions - 1 medium chopped finely
Jeera - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder ( 1/2 tsp if you need it more spicy )
Oil - 1 tbsp

Recipe :

You can make this recipe in 2 ways... Either make a paste of onions, green chillies, ginger and garlic or chop all of them finely. Either ways it tastes good.
I made a paste of green chillies, ginger, garlic and half of the chopped onions. Don't add water. If its not smooth paste, it's fine or even better ! Let it be coarse.
Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a pan. Add jeera and when it sputters, add the remaining onions. Fry for a minute. Then add the paste. Fry for another 2-3 mins. Add the peanut powder, salt and red chilli powder if you want. Mix well and fry for another minute. Remove from heat. It becomes like a one thick ball.
Peanut chutney is ready!!!

You can store it in air tight container in a fridge.

Happy Cooking :)

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Masala Milk : Kojagiri Special

"The curious me" : 

Yesterday was kojagiri pournima. I started getting text messages since morning wishing me a happy pournima and photos of glasses of masala milk and moons! And then a non-Maharashtrian friend asked me, " What does it mean"? And i realised that i didn't knew its meaning!!! In childhood, and until now, all it meant was to drink the yummy masala milk mom has made (strictly allowed to drink after the moon comes out) and also getting excited to sing and dance at the cultural event held in society at nights. Yes, it always used to be a social gathering with all the society people coming together, kids performing some dance or reciting some poems, elders forcing each other to sing songs and ladies chit-chatting over the masala milk they used to boil in the corner. And there was always some snack item too at the side. This all used to be in the night... People waiting for the moon to come out and being awake as late as they can. But i never knew there is a meaning behind all this or so as people think it to be !

Curiosity killed the cat!!! I started doing some R n D, made call to Mom who knew it all as always, searched google and also chatted with my sister in law Namrata Kulkarni. Gathering all the information, here is what i came to know. This is a full moon day which marks the end of the monsoons. On this day, the orbital position of the Moon is such that it is the closest to the Earth as it can be in a year. It is believed that the moon has some healing medicinal rays that it emits on this day ( You have to look at the moon or stand under the moon for minimum 15 minutes) and hence also, the milk is boiled under the moon, so it gets the rays and enters our body when we drink it. Nowadays, people make the milk on gas stove and show it to the moon as "Prashad" ( an offering) or keep it under the moon in balcony for sometime. In old days, people used to have early dinners and this milk was to keep them awake throughout the night. It gave energy( as dryfuits are added ) and it reduced bodily heat ( when the milk is taken cold).

It is also believed that Goddess Laxmi travels from one place to other on this night and while travelling, she asks "Ko Jagarti" which means " Who is awake" and blesses all those who are awake. Hence people do laxmi puja also on this night and sing her songs and aartis. That's how the name Kojagiri came. 

I was happy that i learnt something new and thought of trying my hand at something new in the kitchen too ! I had never made masala milk though i knew it was a sister of Basundi ( which i had made once earlier). So here's how i made it and it turned super yummy!! 


1 litre full cream or toned milk
20 almonds ( soak in water for around half n hour and remove the skin )
10 cashews and 10 pistachios ( Hand grind them. Don't make it into smooth powder. A little coarse or a few small pieces should be visible). You can even grind in a mixer. I prefer grinding in this :

A pinch of nutmeg powder
5 tblsp sugar ( Me and my husband don't like too sweet. You can adjust as per your taste)
Cardamom powder - a pinch ( optional). I didnt add
Saffron - a pinch


Bring the milk to boil on low flame and keep boiling it for 20-25 mins stirring with a spoon in between. Add the nutmeg powder, saffron and sugar and let it boil for another 10-15 mins. The milk should reduce to around 750 ml or even half litre ( if you like it thick but masala milk should always be of drinking consistency and not like Rabdi). Add the dry fuits and boil for another 5 mins.
You can either have it hot or cold.

Happy Cooking :)

Friday, 18 October 2013

Hara Bhara Kebab - True to its name !!!

When i told my mother today, that i have started with a food blog, she said " Sanjeev Kapoor zindabad "!!! Yes, i truly adore that man and love his recipes. I followed a lot of his baking recipes and they always turned out yummy ! Recently, i am also hooked on to the Food Food channel. Not only his recipes, but he hosts the show so well. All respects and love to him !

I remember he mentioned in one of the shows that he loved kebabs. So here's a dedication to him..Lets make Hara Bhara Kebabs today.

True to its name, this kebab is all greens... yes, a combination of palak, green peas and you can even add beans if you like ! Greens are always healthy and i have had these kebabs a lot of different restaurants ! Infact once i had decided to try out hara bhara kebabs in all the restaurants in my area and choose the best. Every restaurant had a distinct different taste and shape... yes some had even made rounds balls of them and deep fried !!!! 

Hara Bhara kebabs are easy to make... Just boil the vegetables, mix in the spices, make tikkis and stir fry ! 


1 medium bunch spinach 
2 medium sized potatoes ( Boiled )- Mash or grate them.
1 cup green peas/ if you are adding french beans take 1/2 cup beans and 1/2 cup green peas ( Boiled)
1 tsp amchur powder or according to taste
1 tsp chaat masala or according to taste
2 green chillies chopped finely
3 tbsp besan ( gram flour) - Dry roast this till the nutty smell goes away. Dont make it too dark. You can even use cornflour for binding
Salt to taste ( i prefer rock salt - sendha namak- to normal salt as its healthy and enhances taste too )
Oil to shallow fry


Remove the stems of spinach and wash it 2-3 times. Boil some water with a pinch of salt. Add spinach leaves and boil for 3-4 minutes. Drain and immediately put the leaves under cold water or immerse them in cold water. This is called blanching.
Squeeze extra water from the leaves and chop them finely.
Mix spinach, boiled peas and potatoes. Add the green chillies and all the dry masalas. You can even add 3-4 pieces chopped ginger and 1 inch grated garlic for taste if you want. Mash the mixture well, add besan and  mix everything together with masher or spoon or hands.( I always prefer hands as i love to feel the food on my hand, guess it adds personal touch :))
Apply some oil on your palms and shape medium sized tikkis. Heat oil in a tava/ pan ( around 2 tbsp) and place the tikkis over them and shallow fry from both sides flipping them. Make them little dark golden brown as they turn crispier this way. Do not cover and cook.

The kebabs are ready!!! You can serve it with green chutney or ketchup. If you like tangy taste, put some lemon juice on kebabs.

And yes, sprinkling "Pepper " on top ??? No, not in this one !!! :)))

Happy Cooking :)

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Potato Fritters with a dash of Pepper

Wikipedia says Fritter is a name applied to a wide variety of fried foods, usually consisting of a portion of batter or breading which has been filled with bits of meat, seafood, fruit, or other ingredients. The other ingredients include vegetables too which Wikipedia forgot to mention :) So what we make in India - Bhajji or Bhaiya as they are called, are also Fritters!

Well, i wanted to make an accompaniment as a dry potato sabzi to daal and rice that i had made for dinner ! And thought to make something different than the usual sabzi ( the puri-bhaji one that we make ). My mother used to cut thin slices of potatoes and fry them with jeera( cumin seeds ) and oil. In our language, we call it "Batatyachya Kaachrya". But i decided to add a twist to it!

I had rice powder with me. Rice powder/Rice flour packets are readily available in market these days, but its easy to make it at home too. So you can always make some and store in airtight container. You can even grind it in bulk in a mill and store. It really lasts long.
Wash the rice and soak it in water for as long as you can (2-3 hours, but minimum 1 hour).
Then drain the water completely and spread the rice on a towel for half n hour or till dry. Little moisture is okay. Grind the rice in parts in a mixer and sieve it.
Dry roast the sieved flour until you see steam coming out of the flour.
Let it cool completely and then store in an air tight container.

If you dont have rice flour or dont want to make one, you can use wheat flour too. You can even use maida or a mix of maida and wheat flour but it doesnt get crispier then. Add a tsp of rawa for crispiness.

Ingredients :

Potatoes - ( 2 large ). Peel or not to peel the cover is personal choice.
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 3/4 tsp
Lemon juice - 1/2 tsp ( optional )
A pinch of hing 
Rice flour - To coat.
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil to shallow fry.

Recipe :

Wash the potatoes and slice them into medium sized circles ( as you make for sandwiches ).Dont cut too thin and too small as they tend to become dark and hard while frying.
Now you can make this recipe in 2 ways:

A. Either mix the red chilli powder, turmeric powder, hing and salt with rice powder and dip the potato slices in it ( coat it well ) and shallow fry till potatoes are cooked.


B. Put hing, turmeric powder and red chilli powder over potatoes. Mix well and keep aside for 10 minutes to marinate. The potatoes absorb all the flavours of the spices. You can add salt here but the surface of the potatoes get moist and the rice flour doesn't stick well later on. So better add salt just before coating in rice flour or mix salt in the flour. You can even add lemon juice for marination or on top after frying( gives a tangy taste to the potatoes ). 

After 10 mins( Don't leave for long to marinate as it tends to get watery and salt gets washed off), heat a pan with 2 tsp oil and dip each of the marinated potato slice in rice flour( take the flour in a plate ) and add to the pan. Make sure it's nicely coated with rice powder. Cook both sides on low flame for around 5 mins each.

And don't forget to sprinkle pepper powder on top ( Ahhh, my favourite pepper :)))

You can serve these as snacks or as a starter too!

Happy Cooking :)

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Corn Pulao

I had Corn Pulao at a function and since then i have always been wanting to make one! I have tried 2-3 variations of it but this one is easiest to make... takes less than half an hour... so you might want to consider making this if you have unexpected guests ( provided you have corn in the fridge :)) for lunch or dinner. This dish in itself fills your stomach, so no need to make a side-dish. You can serve this with pickle/chutney or boondi raita.

I suggest you always have a packet of corn in your can make corn chaat, add corn to any vegetable or just plain boil it and toss it with salt and pepper ! It tastes Yummmmmm....Apart from the nutritional benefits of providing vitamins, protein and fiber it gives a great colour to any dish. And all corn recipes are usually time-saving !

You can add any vegetables to this pulao according to your choice. I have added carrots and peas as i wanted the colours to come out ( red/green/yellow). Looks tempting, isn't it? I like the crispiness of the vegetables and didnt want to overcook them, hence i have stir-fried them. If you want, you can boil all of them and mix it with rice and cook, or add the boiled vegetables to cooked rice and steam for 2-3 mins.


Green Peas - 1/2 cup ( fresh or frozen)
Carrot - 1 medium ( peel and chop lengthwise)
Corn - 1/2 cup ( wash the corn thoroughly)
Rice - 1 cup ( Preferably Basmati rice. Wash and soak it in water for 15-20 mins )
Water - 2 cups
Oil/Butter/Ghee - 2 tbsp + 1 tbsp on top (optional)
Spices : ( you can even use 1-2 tsp of readymade biryani/pulao masala available in market but i prefer grinding these fresh)
Peppercorns/ Black pepper - 8 to 10
Dalchini - a small piece
Cardamom ( Elaichi) - 2
Bay leaf( Tej patta) - 1 small
Jeera - 1 tsp
Fennel seeds ( saunf ) - 1/2 tsp ( optional)
Cloves/Lavang - 3-4
Salt to taste


Heat 2 tbsp of oil/butter/ghee in a Cookware bowl or a Cook-n-Serve bowl. You can even make it in a pressure cooker if you dont have a bowl. If you make it in a pan, make sure it is big enough to hold the rice and vegetables both. I would not recommend cooking this recipe in a kadhai.
Add corn and fry them for 1-2 mins. Then add the peas and carrots or any chopped vegetables of your choice. Stir fry all of it till they are semi cooked ( still crisp and not too soft). Smells great, dont they?? :)
Meanwhile, dry roast all the spices on a tava. Let it cool and then grind it to a powder.  Add this powder to the stir fried vegetables and fry for another 2 mins. Then add the soaked rice ( throw away the water ) and mix everything well. Add about 2 cups of water, salt and cover and cook until rice is done.
Garnish with corriander leaves ( Personally, i like the colours of vegetables so i dont like to add corriander leaves to this. I prefer adding 1/2 tsp lemon juice )
You can even add 1 tbsp of ghee or butter on top.

Happy Cooking :)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Stuffed Tomatoes

I remember my father in law telling me about my Mother in law making some awesome stuffed tomatoes and stuffed capsicum and that i should learn it from her. So i wanted to try it and took the recipe from her on phone. There are a lot of stuffings that people add, some add Besan made filling, some vegetable filling and some make it with potato filling. I found the potato easiest to try at first.
Its not at all difficult as it sounds! Just keep all the things ready and make it just half n hour before you ready to eat... that way the tomatoes dont turn soggy.


4 medium sized tomatoes

2 boiled potatoes

100g paneer ( you can make it without paneer and add boiled peas or grated carrots too) 

1 tbsp desi ghee  

1tsp finely chopped green chilies/ 1/2 tsp red chilli powder

½ tsp amchur powder (dry mango powder)
½ tsp black pepper powder ( Ahhh, somehow i love to add a dash of pepper powder to anything and everything )
1tsp sendha namak ( rock salt). You can add normal salt too,adjust to taste.


Cut off the top of the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds and pulp to get a hollow cavity. Grate the paneer and the boiled potatoes. Add green chillies or red chilli powder, amchur powder, pepper powder and salt. Heat the ghee in a pan and add the mixture. Saute for 3-4 minutes stirring continuously. Cool the mixture and stuff in the tomatoes. Shallow fry in 1tbsp till the tomatoes are cooked but firm.You will need to toss and turn the tomatoes for them to cook from all sides. Even if they get slightly burnt, thats okay. Dont worry, it doesnt harm the taste.Add cashew on top for garnishing. If you like raisins, you can add raisin too.You can even bake or grill this at preheated oven - 200 C but i prefer stove top cooking anyday :)

Happy Cooking :)
This recipe is my entry for the "Let's cook for fathers" :


I was wondering, there are soooooo many food blogs on the internet! You need to find a recipe? There is always one on google! I need not write a blog to make it stand out amongst rest. I  just want to contribute as much as my fellow home-maker chefs have done till now. I myself have borrowed recipes from Internet a lot of times and they have turned out super yummy. So my sincere Thanks to all those who take efforts to cook, click pictures and write about them, so it helps fellow cooks like us :)

Kitchen... Not me!!!

I was not at all a kitchen person until i got married recently in Feb 2013. Taking Home Science in college, baking a few cakes at home ( after taking cooking classes ) and helping my mother in the kitchen with making raitas or cutting vegetables is all that i was good at.
My husband loves to eat but i didnt know how to cook apart from the basic chapati-sabzi-daal ! I had a lot of time at hand and hence i started experimenting with food. Finding recipes, getting the ingredients and making something new became an everyday affair! I started enjoying cooking...
And then the phone calls started going to mom and sisters for new recipes, recipes made from leftovers and some real desi( local) ones. During the course, i started adding "my" twist to regular recipes and to my surprise, it worked!! Friends started asking for recipes, loved my photographs and that triggered me to start a blog.
I am sure there are a lot of you newlyweds like me who have been pampered like a princess at their homes and think cooking and kitchen work as a burden... But trust me, 8 months gone by and i must say - Its all worth it ! Infact i feel bad now that i didnt take interest in cooking earlier... I would have been a Masterchef by now :))

Dedicated to my Mother...

I have grown up watching my mother trying different recipes always. Her Dabba( Tiffin ) recipes are to die for, as she had to cook something new everyday for me and my brother. And i remember her packing a 5 dabba tiffin for my father every single day with a pickle/chutney and a sweet. I used to wonder where she gets all the ideas and energy from. There was no internet back then and no one to help her too! Now when i stay nuclear with my husband, and i have to pack dabbas for him, she inspires me :) This blog is truly a dedication to her....

Hubby Dearest...

And whenever i make a new recipe, all the eating experiments are on my husband :) Till date, whenever i make something new, he doesn't stop to praise me for it and yes, is my best critic too...As i am still mastering the skill, he has to bear with all the combinations of less salt - more lemon - very spicy - bittery....But he is always encouraging and we are a team ! He loves to eat, i love to cook :) What more can one ask for :)
And yes, we both love to "Click...Click"....So that's one exciting task we do when a dish is made.
I want to quote a dialogue here from one of my favourite movies ( Must watch for all food loving persons - those who love to cook and those who love to eat ) "Julie and Julia".
Julia never lost her temper because something boiled over, or collapsed in the oven. She was never horrible to her husband. Julia Child began learning to cook because she loved her husband, and she loved food and she didn't know what else to do with herself and in the process she found joy! I didn't understand this for a long time, but i do now.
Hope you enjoy my writings, recipes and the photographs ! Would appreciate your comments/ suggestions always.
Thank you,